Lansdowne Yonkers celebrates winning the 2019 Werner Fricker Open Cup over ASC New Stars (TX), 1-0, on August 18, 2019 in Maryland (Credit: Lansdowne Yonkers FC)
After months of competition and after ten straight wins, for the second time in three years Lansdowne Yonkers FC won the Werner Fricker Amateur Open Cup over Texas side ASC New Stars in the final, 1-0. The team reached the final by downing Fort Wayne SC of Indiana, 6-0, two days prior.
"It was a long year, pretty much August to August,” Head coach Sean Kelly said after the game. “I am proud of my players and how far we came over the season, thanks to the board and the club and players really deserve this cup, we now take a week off then go again continuing preseason."
The final four teams consisted of the three United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) Regional champions (Regions 1, 2 and 3) and the runner-up from Region 1's final at the newly named Champion of Regions national tournament. The event between August 16-18 also included the Gerhard Mengel Over-30 and the Over-40 National Cup finals at Troy Park in Elkridge Maryland.
Lansdowne won Region I, which includes members from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, over Washington DC's Yinz United, 2-1, back in June which qualified both teams for the nationals.
Additionally, the New York Pancyprian Freedom Over-30 team won Region I’s tournament to compete for the Gerhard Mengel trophy but fell in the semifinals to Illinoise side AAC Eagles Over-30, 4-3.
In Yonker’s semifinal against Fort Wayne, the high pace offense from the Cosmopolitan League side caught the Illinoise team off guard and didn’t give them much room to recover.
Team captain Kelly recovered the ball off a Daryl Kavanagh corner kick ten yards out and fired it into the back of the net to give his team the lead after only 15 minutes. A low strike from Jason Gaylord doubled the team’s lead not long after and Shaquille Saunchez made it 3-0 heading into halftime.
Michael Holzer and Ciaran McGuigan were vital for the early scoring as the midfielders helped control the ball. Pushing it forward and finding the open man up top or stopping the opposition whenever they tried to enter the opposite end of the field.
Yonkers continued to dominate possession in the second half. The comfortable lead allowed Coach Kelly to use his bench, which despite the travel still had a number of subs ready to play, so fresh feet and new tactics could be used. Kwesi Mills-Odoi and Sammy Gehman both scored goals themselves while keeper Abdoukarim “Kabo” Danso kept his clean sheet in tact. The latter even added his name to the scoresheet when a penalty was awarded to Lansdowne. Kelly allowed the keeper to take on the Illinoise keeper, despite the obvious risk, and saw the ball find the back of the net.
The team was able to rest and train on Saturday before the final kicked off on Sunday night. Despite a late start to the championship game, due to the previous Over-30 title game going into extra time, the setting sun did little to help conditions. The Maryland air was humid and sticky, with temperatures reaching the lower 90 threshold, meaning a slower game and multiple subs was in store for both Yonkers and ASU Stars, the latter of which defeated Yinz United in the semifinals, 2-0.
The Bhoys used the same team that got them to the title game only 48 hours earlier which earned the dominant win. However, the New Stars from the Lone Star state were a totally different opponent. The Houston side matched with Lansdowne’s hard press and kept Kabo on his toes in net and the rest of the back-line under pressure.
The center backs, Kelly and Mauritzan, and midfielders Holzer and McGuigan helped keep the Houston group away from net and helped push the ball forward when needed. The USASA Region I Champion Yonkers came close a few times, with Kavanagh notching the ball off the crossbar twice and two moments of chaos in the box leading to possible chances, but after 45 both teams were scoreless.
Despite his performance McGuigan did not last the full 90. In the 60th minute he was sent off after the official spoke with the linesman after a foul and turned what was originally a yellow card into a straight red.
This was not uncharted territory for the team in this tournament. In the Region I Quarterfinals, Lansdowne went down a man against New Jersey powerhouse FC Motown due to a red card. The team fought through it and after 90 minutes, tied 2-2, forced the game into extra-time where it advanced through penalty kicks.
With his team tired and Holzer down with an injury the strong midfield needed new feet. Coach Kelly moved Craig Purcell and Samuel Gehman into the center, backing up the center backs to try and make-up the difference. Quick passes and fast movements began to catch up with the opposition and the Bhoys finally broke through in the 70th minute when Nicolai Andersen found Gaylord on a cross and set him up for a strike at the opposite post that went in.
Despite the New Stars throwing all their players forward the score remained and Yonkers came away with its third national championship in three years. Lansdowne opens the new Cosmopolitan Soccer League Division 1 season on Saturday, September 7, against the newly promoted KidSuper Samba AC. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 9 PM at Tibbet Brook Park Field 3 in Yonkers.
Lansdowne's Werner Fricker Open Cup Opponents:
USASA Region I Opponents:
New York Athletic Club (NY)
New York Greek Americans (NY)
New York Pancyprian Freedom (NY)
Kosmo Olimpious (NY)
Cedar Stars Academy (NJ)
FC Motown (NJ)
Brockton United (MA)
Yinz United (D.C.)
USASA Champion of Regions:
Fort Wayne (ID)
ASU New Stars (TX)